Jenny Kendal Interview: Looking at Charter & Virtual School Options

October 10, 2014

by:  Lorraine Schneider

This interview was part of the ATN Summit on Educating Traumatized Children (Day 8).

Jenny Kendal:  Looking at Charter & Virtual School Options

Choice, choices and more choices. We have traditional public brick and mortar schools. We can choose a private school. We can homeschool.There are magnet schools and charter schools. How is a parent ever going to make the best decision for their child?

I just finished listening to ATN‘s interview with Jenny Kendall. Jenny is the director of special programs at K-12, a virtual online school. She provides support in each of the K-12 managed schools and in all program areas and that includes special education, 504 response to interventions, federal title programs and English language learners. She says, “You really have to look at your child to find your child’s inner strengths, your child’s inner passion as well as your child’s current cognitive and mental health needs and then pick the school setting that works best for that child.”

In other words, there is no one-size-fits-all model. It’s as individual as our children.

Jenny goes on to explain what a virtual, or online, charter school is. A virtual school is a charter school that has decided that the online option and online curriculum is how they want to serve and support students that attend that school. The curriculum is developed and delivered online to students. Teachers and the students see each other and they communicate through a blackboard platform. The students can type and the teacher can see what the student is typing and respond immediately. The teachers and students can also work on the whiteboard. So, if a teacher needs to see how a student is figuring out a long division problem, she can ask them to do that on their version of the whiteboard and she can see where they are struggling.

While listening, I tried to determine the pros and the cons of this type of school.

The first thought that popped in my head was, “Wow, that’s a lot of commitment on the parent’s part.” Jenny confirmed my thought but she also suggested that the parent find family and friends to help with the academic areas in which they are strong. What about socialization? Again, Jenny suggested scouts, church or youth leagues. There are many opportunities for socialization outside of the classroom.

The pros are huge – no anxiety of classroom changes, no missing class for doctor’s appointments, no fire drills, the safety of home and the list continues.

Parenting traumatized children requires a lot of “thinking outside of the box”. A virtual charter school is definitely different, but, our kids live outside of the box, so it may just be the perfect fit.